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Being Mrs. Black

Summary:
BMBEdward/Bella, Implied Jacob/Bella. Imagine that the Cullens were late in returning to Forks. Bella arrived on schedule, but her life proceeded normally. She and Jacob become the best of friends and with no vampires to awaken them, the wolves don't mature. When he turns 18, Jake and his friends enlist, going to look for adventure in Iraq. He proposes, and Bella can't imagine ever loving someone more than she does her best friend. They quickly marry and he leaves for war. Two months later she gets some news that will turn her life upside down. And on that same day, a beautiful, dangerous stranger appears. From the moment their eyes meet, Bella begins to question those solemn vows she made. Will Bella Black do the right thing? Banner art and banner by Seisei


Notes:


9. Family Meeting

Rating 5/5   Word Count 1813   Review this Chapter

PART NINE: Family Meeting

Edward POV

The wolf trace led back toward the pack's home territory. I briefly considered following it, but that would only delay the inevitable. If the wolves decided to make trouble, they could be dealt with. But if I created conflict now, Bella would definitely be caught in the middle. My jaw clenched at that thought, and suddenly the idea of putting down a few strays didn't seem like such a bad one.

No. My rash actions had caused enough trouble for one day.

They were together and waiting when I reached home, I could feel it. The garage was still open, my Volvo S60 pulled in next to Emmett's hulking Jeep. I slid my fingertips along the Volvo's smooth side, petting it like a beloved hound before leaving with regrets. The temptation to simply get in and go was fierce, but my pride wouldn't let me.

In the living room, Esme and Alice sat on one of the sofas, Jasper leaning casually on the wall behind them. Rosalie stood at the rear windows, looking out on the twilight. As soon as I stepped into the room, Emmett raised his head, leaving off from brooding contemplation of his wife. "Hey bro," the greeting was subdued, and I could already sense the undercurrent of trouble.

Without a word, Esme rose to her feet and came to me, standing on tiptoe to put her arms around my neck; a declaration of her loyalty, and a gesture of support. I hugged her back, it was all but impossible not to. Whether I presented myself as her brother or her son, Esme was precious, her approval and love a major underpinning of who I chose to be in this life. 'As long as you're happy, I will support you.' I hugged her a little more tightly for that.

Alice was neutral but concerned, Jasper was wary. Not surprisingly, Rosalie was the main source of tension, and from her came fury. Emmett's conflict I could read clearly from his thoughts, he was torn between brother and lover. Catching his eye, I gave him a small, tight smile and nodded toward Rosalie. She was his wife, and his loyalty belonged with her. I wasn't going to cause him trouble with his marriage.

"Busy day, Edward?" Rosalie asked without turning around.

"Busy enough." I looked at Alice, who lifted her chin and looked back with a touch of defiance. 'They had a right to know. Your actions affect all of us.' "I agree," I murmured.

"You'll bring them all down on our heads," Rosalie snarled, finally turning to look at me.

"Would you have let her die?" There was too much heat in the question, I knew it as soon as it left my tongue. I was too invested in this, dangerously so.

"Yes." Jasper answered before Rosalie could. "Letting her die is not the same as killing her. Your interference saved one life and put seven in danger." My hands tightened into fists, but there was nothing I could say to that. He was right.

"Her blood calls to me." As soon as I said it, I felt Emmett's eyes on me. Alice and Esme nodded, they'd known why I left.

"And so you torture yourself by saving her when you could have let it end cleanly." Eyes narrowed, Jasper crossed his arms across his chest. "Or do you plan to let yourself slip?" Oh, he'd like that, wouldn't he? No longer being the liability.

A growl began in the back of my throat and Alice's eyes widened in alarm. "Stop this! Stop it, right now." She was on her feet and between us in an instant, visions of the argument becoming physical foremost in her mind. "You're both idiots. You, stop pushing him," Jasper's tense posture relaxed slightly at the rebuke. "And you," she turned my way, and her thoughts were twice as scathing as her words. "Stop being so defensive."

I snarled once in answer, but let some of the tension go. Fighting with Jasper was hardly a way to make the day better. Pleased, Esme patted my arm, but I noticed her grip on me had tightened considerably. "He's worried, Edward. None of us want to see you hurt."

"It's more than that." As gently as I could, I extricated myself from Esme's hold and paced toward the front of the room and back as they watched. I needed to put this into words, I owed them that much. "I can't explain it. Something about her..." Raking a hand through my hair, I tried my best to screen out their thoughts so I could focus on my own. "The thirst is there, I can't deny it.. but the emotions are so much more complex. I'm obsessed." God, that almost seemed an understatement. "Captivated. When I'm near her I can't look away. Beauty isn't the sum of it, thought she's pretty enough. The attraction is so much deeper than that." I laughed ruefully. "Something in her calls to something in me. And in the end, she steals away all reason. I feel like I'd do anything to protect the way she makes me feel. To protect her." I caught Emmett and Jasper sharing a look before their eyes went to their respective wives. Jasper was skeptical, Emmett was intrigued with a dash of optimism.

"There's one other thing." I stopped, standing in the center of the room. "She's pregnant."

Rosalie hissed, a sharp, unpleasant sound, turning into an icy statue that stared out the window into darkness. As her husband, Emmett understood what she was thinking even better than I did, and I winced at his pain and regret. Of all the many whims he would gladly grant for her, it was her dearest wish that was beyond his power. Sensing his distress, Esme perched on the arm of his chair and slid an arm around him, comforting another of her sons. "Two lives were saved, then." She said to me and nodded, as though this justified my every action.

"Are you going to setup house with her then, Edward?" Rosalie's voice was mocking, but it was hard to feel anything but pity when I could hear the raw pain of her thoughts. "Play along until the thirst becomes too much and kill her?" Then the pain twisted into self-loathing. "Or were you planning to make her one of us?"

"Stop it, Rose." Emmett was on his feet and at her side in an instant. "Just let this go," he murmured, pulling her into his arms.

"It's a valid question," I said after a moment. "I can't imagine that she'd want it..." I couldn't imagine anyone asking for this kind of life willingly. I shook my head, firming my resolve. "Absolutely not." Alice was watching me with something akin to sympathy. She thought I was foolish, and she silently told me so. I shook my head again, looked away. Her gift wasn't infallible. As long as I had the freedom to choose, I would avoid the paths she saw.

"So are you in love with this woman, Edward?" Esme's voice was gentle. If only all such interrogations were so loving.

Of course not. How could I be? I barely knew her. She was married! A thousand answers in the negative went through my mind, and not a single one made it to my lips. "I... don't know." Alice arched an eyebrow at me, and I pointedly refused to meet her gaze.

Sighing with impatience at my obstinance, Alice moved on. "There's still the matter of the security cameras at the store. We'll need to do something about that."

"Shouldn't be hard," Jasper replied quickly. "We can do it tonight." They shared a smile. Breaking and entering, only in my family would that be cause for romance.

"I don't think there'll be any other challenges," I said quietly. Publicly saving a woman from a delivery truck had been my most ostentatious gesture for the day.

"Until the next one." Alice's tone was tart, but she smiled at me. A moment passed and a furrow appeared between her golden eyes. "Be careful of her father... I have a feeling you didn't make a friend there."

"No." That was something of a misstep on my part, actually. I would have to see what I could do as far as damage control. "There's something else." I waited until all their eyes were on me. "The wolves are back." Emmett grinned, Jasper became thoughtful and the women had mixed feelings on the subject. "I encountered one briefly in the woods earlier. He didn't engage me, but he was obviously making it clear that we're being watched."

"We'll make Carlisle aware when he gets home," Esme said quietly. "The terms of our treaty with them will need to be reviewed."

"I wonder where they've been up until now." Jasper looked at me. "You'll have to tell me what you remember. Should it come down to a fight, we'll want to be prepared."

Alice frowned at him. "Are you planning to violate the treaty?"

"I'm always looking to be prepared, darlin'. It comes from being around you all these years."

"Tch, nonsense, you make such a fuss about everything" They were flirting, even if I hadn't been privy to Alice's thoughts, I could see it in the way her lips twitched, her body canted toward Jasper. I watched closely, fascinated, truly seeing that interaction for the first time in ages. It had been so hard not to envy them at first, the way Alice melted Jasper's reserve, how his quiet humor made her eyes dance. Being the lone man in a house full of happy couples had been painful at times. But at some point, I'd made my peace with it, or so I told myself. Yet the thoughts I was having now, the fierce anticipation, the longing to be somewhere else, were anything but peaceful.

'I think he may finally be in love.' Startled, I turned to find Esme's eyes on me again. They were soft and loving, absolutely accepting of whatever steps I had to take to be happy. 'Yes, my darling. I see you watching them. Follow your heart. Forever is a very long time to be alone.'

Longer than I wanted to contemplate. I think I had fancied myself capable of a monastic existence of scholarly pursuits, living for knowledge, for art and science and whatever else held my attention. I'd been wrong. I wanted her, I wanted us so badly that I could taste it.

Love was a word I'd never dared consider for myself... until now. Niceties like morals seemed inconsequential by comparison.